The Process Versus James Shields’ Curveball Tendencies | The Process Report

The Process Versus James Shields’ Curveball Tendencies

When the Rays face off against James Shields tonight expect to see plenty of first-pitch curves.

Shields, who began pitching backward with the Rays more often in 2011, is amongst the league leaders in first-pitch usage of his curveball. Current Rays like Alex Cobb (who leads the league in the category) and Matt Moore also rate well. Their placement suggests it’s likely an organizational thing as much as a personal thing, though that hasn’t stopped Shields from taking his approach with him to Kansas City.

Something Shields is wont to do is double up on curveballs to start at-bats. Of the 32 first-pitch curveballs he’s thrown this season, seven have been followed with another curve. Shields has been particularly aggressive in doubling up once he gets a strike on the first breaker. It makes sense as batters don’t like to swing at curveballs unless 1) they have to or 2) the pitch is a hanger. Shields has the ability to throw quality strikes with his curve, and so he attempts to steal not one but two strikes.

We’ve seen Shields record strikeouts without using his fastball before. Don’t be surprised if he tries to record one or two against the Rays tonight.

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